Jeff Gegelman of rural Golden Valley spent Monday at the flower shop he and his wife own in Beulah, happy that none of the flowers were being arranged for his own funeral.
Gegelman, 60, was shot in the chest and twice in the arm Sunday by one of two men who entered his home, while a third man remained in the car outside. He was airlifted to a Bismarck hospital and released, the bullet still lodged in fatty tissue in his chest after ricocheting off one of his ribs. Other bullets scraped the flesh on the outside of his arm.
The alleged shooter, who was picked up by law enforcement while driving himself to the hospital in Hazen, is in custody at the jail in Stanton. No charges have yet been brought and no names were being released, said Mercer County Sheriff Dean Danzeisen. The other two men apparently remain at large.
Gegelman was home alone around 3:30 p.m., when the three men drove a small car into his yard, came up to the house and knocked loudly at the door.
He didn’t like the looks of them, so he remained quiet in the house while they got back into the car. They made a U-turn in the yard, and two got back out and came up to the door.
In the meantime, he armed himself with a .22 handgun. When the two knocked, pushed opened the door and called out, Gegelman stepped into the room, pointed a gun and said, “You came to the wrong house today.”
He said one of the men immediately started shooting and he returned fire, shooting the gunman in the back as he took off from the house.
“I was watching the one who was shooting, watching his gun, the smoke and fire. I’m too damned old to be shooting at people,” Gegelman said Monday. He said he estimated the shooter’s age at about 20.
After the shooting, Gegelman followed the car out of his yard and was able to get a license plate number. He drove to Beulah, where he was able to contact police and get medical help.
He said the shooter must have been behind him out on N.D. Highway 200, on his way to the hospital, and was picked up by police shortly afterward. Gegelman said he suspects the other two were dropped off, somewhere in Golden Valley.
Connie Gegelman said she still can’t believe her husband was back with her — albeit with a big bruise — after getting shot in the chest.
“It’s a miracle, an honest-to-God miracle,” she said.
Gegelman said he plans to get himself a bigger gun and more bullets.
One of the couple’s neighbors said she hadn’t heard anything official from police Sunday night, or Monday afternoon, even though two of the men were still at large.
“It would have been nice,” to hear something, said Tracy Boehler.
Boehler said she and her husband live less than one-eighth mile from the Gegelmans and the first they heard of the shootings was late Sunday afternoon, when someone came into their yard to tell them that police vehicles and an ambulance were in their neighbor’s yard.
Danzeisen said the investigation was hampered by Monday’s storm. He said more information would be available this morning.